Rural and remote communities in the North will benefit from high-speed Internet

News release

Residents in 10 communities to have new or improved Internet access thanks to a $6.1-million investment

May 16, 2018, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Internet access is more than just a convenience; communities, businesses and institutions need it to find information, offer services and create opportunities. That’s why the Government of Canada is investing over $4.6 million through the Connect to Innovate program to bring new or improved high-speed Internet to nine Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories and one Indigenous community in Yukon.

The funding was announced today by Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, at the Greenstone Building in Yellowknife.

The funding will be allocated to Northwestel, a regional telecommunications service provider, to build fibre-optic backbone in the community of Jean Marie River, Northwest Territories (Tthek’éhdél Dene First Nation). Northwestel will also extend satellite connection to the following nine remote northern communities beginning in April 2019: 

  • Colville Lake (Behdzi Ahda First Nation), Northwest Territories

  • Gamètì First Nation, Northwest Territories

  • Łutselk’e (Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation), Northwest Territories

  • Paulatuk (Inuvialuit), Northwest Territories

  • Sachs Harbour (Inuvialuit), Northwest Territories

  • Trout Lake (Sambaa K’e First Nation), Northwest Territories

  • Ulukhaktok (Inuvialuit), Northwest Territories

  • Wekweètì (Dechi Laot’i First Nations), Northwest Territories

  • Old Crow (Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation), Yukon

In addition to the federal funding, Northwestel is investing $1.5 million in building the backbone network needed to provide reliable high-speed Internet and data capacity in each of these communities.

These investments will help residents of these communities connect with family and friends, do business online, participate in distance education and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age.

The Government of Canada’s $500-million Connect to Innovate program is investing in building the digital backbone of high-speed Internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a digital world.


“Internet access is now an essential part of everyday life. Canadians go online to connect with friends and family, as well as for education, health services, entertainment and shopping. A faster Internet connection enables Canadians to get the skills and training they need to qualify for well-paying jobs. It allows them to innovate. The smallest businesses, no matter where they are located, can fully participate in the global marketplace and achieve global scale in a flash with faster Internet service. We can no longer consider high-speed Internet a luxury.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“This investment in high-speed Internet will provide significant improvements in access to educational, health, social and economic resources for our territory and for our Indigenous communities. I am pleased to see the building of these much-needed networks.”
– Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories

“This new fibre-optic connection will ensure that Jean Marie River has a reliable high-capacity Internet backbone for its education, health care and community needs. Northwestel is proud to play a key role not only in bringing fibre to Jean Marie River but also in reducing Internet prices for nine northern communities.”
– Curtis Shaw, President, Northwestel

Quick facts

  • Of the $6.1 million being invested in the Northwest Territories:

    • $4.6 million will come from the federal Connect to Innovate program; and

    • $1.5 million will be provided by Northwestel.

  • Northwestel will use the $4.6-million federal investment to provide 10 rural communities with increased capacity to access high-speed Internet.

  • Connect to Innovate is part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Associated links


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Karl W. Sasseville
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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